Ray Pethtel, director of the Transportation Policy Group at the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, has been appointed interim executive director of the I-81 Corridor Coalition.  

The I-81 Coalition was founded in 2007 as a partnership between New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, West Virginia, Virginia, and Tennessee and included local governments, metropolitan planning organizations, state transportation departments, private sector, and non-profit organizations.  The six-state partnership was developed because each of the states host a critical section of Interstate 81 and have joined together to achieve, to the greatest extent possible, a safe, efficient, environmentally sensitivity, seamless, and intermodal transportation corridor.

Among his coalition assignments, Pethtel will help build the membership and financial stability of the coalition, develop a work plan, provide leadership of the coalition’s outreach and research programs, and manage research projects involving the 855 mile interstate corridor from Canada to Tennessee. 

In addition to organizing activities, the coalition is

  • Hosting incident management workshops in each state to train emergency responders on the latest techniques for safely clearing  traffic crashes on the interstate highway;
  • Developing a vision plan for the Appalachia using the I-81 corridor to achieve sustainable communities and a competitive economic development in the transportation infrastructure;
  • Researching truck parking in the corridor and ways to get real-time information to truck drivers en route; and
  • Exploring ways to enhance coordination of multistate planning and communication systems.

The coalition is governed by a 19 member steering committee chaired by Rick Rovegno, commissioner of Cumberland County, Pa. 

Pethtel has 25 years of experience in transportation policy and operations. At Virginia Tech he served as a University Transportation Fellow.  From 1986 to 1994 he was commissioner of the Virginia Department of Transportation, chairman and vice chairman of the Commonwealth Transportation Board, and the founding director of the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission.

Dedicated to its motto, Ut Prosim (That I May Serve), Virginia Tech takes a hands-on, engaging approach to education, preparing scholars to be leaders in their fields and communities. As the commonwealth’s most comprehensive university and its leading research institution, Virginia Tech offers 240 undergraduate and graduate degree programs to more than 31,000 students and manages a research portfolio of $513 million. The university fulfills its land-grant mission of transforming knowledge to practice through technological leadership and by fueling economic growth and job creation locally, regionally, and across Virginia.

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